UPDATE: Here’s when you can expect to get your bloomin’ onion fix at Dawson County’s first Outback Steakhouse
The Australian-themed restaurant will soon open its first location in Dawson County.
Full Story
By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
STARs together
Student, teacher share close bond
3 STAR Student pic
Dawson County High School STAR Student Cole Simmons visits with adviser and STAR Teacher Ryan Coker. - photo by David Renner Dawson Community News

After a month of secrecy, the 2014 Dawson County High School STAR Student can celebrate the achievement with friends and classmates.

"It was the last day of the semester and I didn't have any exams that day, so I stayed home," said Cole Simmons, a senior. "I got a call from the school that woke me up and it was Ms. [Marjorie] Poss. She told me that I was the STAR student."

The Student Teacher Achievement Recognition, or STAR, program is organized annually by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Foundation.

Honorees must have the highest score on a single test date for the three-part SAT taken through November of their senior year. Their SAT scores also must be equal to or higher than the latest available national average on the math, critical reading and writing sections.

In addition, the students must be in the top 10 percent or top 10 students of their class based on grade-point average.

Simmons, who scored 2,110 out of a possible 2,400 points on the SAT, took the test three times.

In their December conversation, Poss also told Simmons he had time to pick a STAR teacher.

"I told her I didn't need any time, it's definitely Mr. [Ryan] Coker," he said of the school's business and office technology teacher and Future Business Leaders of America, or FBLA, adviser.

Coker was pleased with the news.

"I was excited. Cole is almost like the little brother I never had. We've spent so much time together," Coker said.

"It's not like most students, where you only see them once a day or a few times a week. We've traveled all over the state of Georgia, we've traveled across the United States, even outside of the states. I was excited to be chosen because I know we'll be friends for the rest of our lives."

According to Simmons, Coker has been one of his strongest supporters during his school career and in his involvement in the FBLA, the largest and oldest student business organization in the country.

"He's worked with me over the last few years. He's dedicated a lot of his time and energy to my growth and all of my activities in FBLA," Simmons said. "He was, without a doubt, the teacher that has impacted my life the most."

In June, Simmons was elected national president of the FBLA, the first from Georgia to hold the position in 41 years and the first from Dawson County.

He has also served as the 2012-13 Georgia FBLA Northwest Area vice president and 2013-14 Georgia FBLA state president and is on the Downtown Dawsonville Steering Committee.

Simmons has been accepted at Georgia Tech, Stanford University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

"I'm going to Stanford when I graduate," he said. "I want to major in computer science and go into a career in web development."

For Simmons, all these accomplishments have been the product of a lifetime of support.

"Everybody along the way has been very supportive. My parents, the administrators for the school system - everybody has been there for me," he said. "I've had no shortage of support."